By ROD AMNER
The Azanian Peoples’ Organisation (Azapo) in Makhanda is protesting the Department of Education’s failure to deliver textbooks, stationery and other learner support materials to local public schools.
Azapo national deputy president Siphosethu Manyati said school principals have started asking parents to buy their textbooks to begin teaching.
“This is completely unaffordable and again would let the Eastern Cape provincial government, which receives a budget from public funds for books, off the hook,” Manyati said.
“Don’t play with the future of our children. Deliver books now! Black Children Matter!” she said.
Meanwhile, local retailers of school stationery, including Pep Stores, Shoprite, Checkers, ABM Office National and others had run out of exercise books by Tuesday, leaving learners stranded at paperless desks at schools.
The protests, tagged #BringTheBooks, moved to Khutliso Daniels High School on 25 January.
Most Eastern Cape schools have not received textbooks, and other learning materials, despite schools opening last Wednesday for the 2022 academic year.
At a press conference last Tuesday, 18 January, Eastern Cape education MEC Fundile Gade promised the department would deliver all outstanding stationery, learning material, teaching material, science and technology equipment, maths and sciences apparatus, electronic equipment and school furniture by today, 24 January.
He attributed the delay in delivering study material to budget constraints faced by his department.
Due to the budget shortfall, he said he had to ask the Department of Basic Education, the Treasury, and the Office of the Premier for R267 million to purchase textbooks.
“That was made available to the Department of Education in December 2021 for the purchasing of learner support material,” said Gade.
“This, therefore, meant that the procurement process related to this amount could only start then, at the time when most of our key role-players were already winding up for December holidays, and effectively the procurement process was concluded in January 2022.”
A provincial portfolio committee meeting was held at Khutliso Daniels High School on 25 January, attended by Azapo representatives.
Azapo’s Thanduxolo Kula said the organisation noted a “lack of planning and communication” in the Department of Education that “could have been avoided”.
“This is affecting teaching, learning and unnecessarily caused anxiety,” he said.